For a Handful of Love-filled Flattened Rice…

Sudama was a close friend of Krishna. They studied together at Sage Sandeepani’s gurukulam. After their sojourn with their Guru, they parted. Years later, Krishna became the King of Dwaraka while Sudama lived a life of poverty but with intense devotion to Krishna. He could not forget his extraordinary friend even after many years.

Sudama lived with his wife Kalyani and had many children. It was hard for him to provide even the basic needs to his family, but he still led a contented life, thanks to his love for Krishna.

One day Kalyani was upset when she looked at her starving children. She gently brought up an idea with Sudama, “Dear husband, you often talk about your childhood friend Krishna. He is now the king of Dwaraka. Why don’t you visit him? He will definitely help us and we can also lead a happy life.”

Sudama was very happy that he was being asked to visit Krishna. He immediately agreed to go, without imagining even for a second that he would ask Krishna for help. Seeing his friend again after all these years would be enough reward for him.

Kalyani remembered that Sudama would say that Krishna loved flattened rice. So although they had nothing to offer Krishna, she borrowed some flattened rice and tied in a scrap of cloth for Krishna.

Sudama happily set off for Dwaraka, thinking of Krishna all the way. He reminisced their times together and wondered whether Krishna would remember him. When he reached Dwaraka, his eyes widened with wonder. The city was so stunning and beautiful!

Krishna saw Sudama from a distance and rushed out and grasped him with his arms. Krishna’s eyes were filled with tears to see this old, devoted friend of his. He seated Sudama in his own royal seat, washed his feet and honored him like an elder brother. Rukmini too served Sudama along with Krishna. The classmates then walked down memory lane, recalling the sweet times they had spent together at the gurukulam.

Sudama suddenly remembered the flattened rice, but was ashamed to offer something so meagre to a great person. As he hesitated, Krishna noticed the little bag and asked “What are you hiding from me? Let me see…”

Krishna grabbed the little bag from him and exclaimed in joy when he saw what it contained. “Sudama, you remembered that I love flattened rice!” He ate a fistful of it, and was about to eat a second when Rukmini Devi, who was an incarnation of Lakshmi Devi Herself, stopped him. She said, “Lord, one handful is more than enough to give him enough for this world and the next.”

Sudama could not understand what she meant. But he was happy that the Lord had enjoyed his meagre offering.

Sudama spent that night happily with his friend in his palace. The next morning he took leave of Krishna, his heart now filled with bliss for having met his Lord and for seeing that He had not forgotten him. He was simply happy thinking about Him and His sweetness.

With such thoughts, he walked back to his village joyfully. When he reached his house, he searched for his shabby hut, but could not find it. In its place was a huge mansion with guards at the entrance. He thought that his family had been driven away by someone, but when he took a couple of steps, he heard his wife and children calling him from the mansion.

The Lord had bestowed great wealth on Sudama without him asking for it, simply because He was grateful for his friend’s selfless devotion and love.

Shalini Kelappan, Doha, Qatar

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